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DVDBeaver are proud to announce our voting results for Blu-ray and 4K UHD of the Year - 2019 Poll. I would like to give a very appreciative thank you to those 174 individuals (our MOST ever!) who participated. We didn't publish the usual 25+ individual selections and comments (it's just a massive amount of work and the webpage becomes unstable because of the size - my apologies) but everyone's votes were counted in the totals and we are  adding (new) occasional quote comments!

This Year's Poll is dedicated to our Patrons... with great thanks. We would not exist without you! To those that are unfamiliar, Patreon is a secure/verified third-party service where users can agree to a monthly donation via credit card or PayPal by clicking the button below.

 

A few comments. This year, Criterion were strongly challenged and two companies should get the credit. Indicator (UK) for their stellar attention to detail, impressive catalogue of films and stacked boxsets, as well as Kino Lorber who produced over 250 Blu-rays in 2019 and quite handily, included the most audio commentaries - far more than any other company. Eureka/Masters of Cinema (UK) and Arrow both had noteworthy years with some amazing titles and extensive love put into their packages. This is a competitive business and digital archivist cinema fans are incredibly fortunate to benefit from the ever-improving quality and expanding extra features. We continue to endorse and support other great labels like Second Run, Twilight Time, BFI, Classicflix, Olive Films (and their improved 'Signature'  releases), Studio Canal, Artificial Eye, Flicker Alley, Network, Shout! Factory, Film Movement, Warner Archive, Milestone, Synapse, Severin, Grindhouse Releasing, Cinema Guild, Cult Epics, Oscilloscope, Vinegar Syndrome, Cohen Media, Strand Releasing, Film Detective, Signal One, 101 'Black Label', Screenbound, 88 Films, Third Window, Camera Obscura, Wicked Vision and Turbine (all three out of Germany) as well as he French company Wild Side's unrivaled books included in their Blu-ray packages. Despite Hollywood's over-produced lackluster content - here is no better time to be a film fan with a home theater! Join us on Social Media:

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Colin Zavitz our top-notch reviewer and our own, and accurately labeled, 'Czar of Noir' Gregory Meshman who continues to support us with content lists, updates and more. Plus one contribution from past reviewer Brian Montgomery! A new friendship with Matt Paprocki over at DoBlu - a super guy and great reviewer! I miss Eric Cotenas' work and hope we can get him back providing his edifying content, in some form, in 2020!

 

NOTE: All participants will be put in a draw for one of ten disc see HERE. Will do in early January!

The Totals (click to access)

THE TOP TEN BOXSETSs OF 2019

TOP TEN Blu-rays OF 2019    11th- 50th Place Blu-rays of 2019

TOP TEN 4K UHD

 TOP LABELS        Best Cover Design

     'Black' and Blu (Film Noir on 2019 Blu-ray)     

'Yellow' and Blu (Giallo on 2019 Blu-ray)

Hammer Time (Hammer Studios on 2019 Blu-ray)

Notable TV on 2019 Blu-ray    DVD

 Banner Guessing CONTEST

Uncensored Rants and Praise

Gary's 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' list

 

11th-50th Place Voted Upon (minimum 40 votes required):

 

TOP 10 are located HERE

  Votes
   

           11.    Ikarie XB 1 (aka Voyage to the End of the Universe) [Blu-ray] (Jindrich Polák, 1963) Region Free UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)  ON THE COVER: "A cool design which captures the feeling of human existence at the center of science and industrial high tech, surrounded by the expansive yet confining environment of a spaceship and the dark mysterious vastness of space. It also visually suggests the film’s possible influence on Kubrick’s later 2001" - Schwarkkve

     "A welcome upgrade for this intelligent SF film, based on a minor Stanislaw Lem novel" - Luc Pomerleau

  289

           12.    Klute (Alan J. Pakula, 1971) [Blu-ray] Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

  273

           13.    Fritz Lang's Indian Epic [Blu-ray] (Tiger of Bengal, The Indian Tomb) (Fritz Lang, 1959) Film Movement (BEAVER REVIEW) "My wife calls the pair "warm & friendly" if it is possible to imagine any Lang movie as "warm & friendly" - regardless they feature a couple of the sexiest most provocative dances by Debra Paget ever put on film particularly in the late 1950s & especially the one where you wonder how her white, glistening boobie & crotch coverings are being held in place..." - Simón Cherpitel

  270

           14.    A Bread Factory [Blu-ray] (Patrick Wang, 2018) Grasshopper (BEAVER REVIEW) "Even though I contributed to this release by holding a public interview with writer-director Patrick Wang that's included, I agreed to do this gratis, which I believe entitles me to list it as a favorite. ". - Jonathan Rosenbaum

  267

           15.    Häxan [Blu-ray] (Benjamin Christensen, 1922) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) "A unique, one of a kind cinematic experience that is a riveting amalgam of history, European folklore, 1920’s popular psychology, and social commentary. It is also a wellspring of proto-horror movie tropes and a forerunner of the modern essay film. Benjamin Christensen’s wry observations in the contemporary sequences still seem relevant today. The striking visuals, which blend medieval gothic images and gritty naturalism, expressionism and romanticism, are amazing and well served on this edition that is a further testament to the magnificence of nitrate film and prime lenses." - Schwarkkve

  266

           16.    Lost Highway [Blu-ray] (David Lynch, 1997) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

   244

           17.    Cruising [Blu-ray] (William Friedkin, 1980) Arrow US + UK (BEAVER REVIEW) "Despite Friedkin's habitual revisionism on color palette and other aspects, it proves (once more) that Arrow is ready to make spectacular "event editions" of infamous titles from any major distributor (waiting for a "The Devils" miracle to happen...) " - Alfredo Santoro

    "A very controversial film, Arrow still pulls out all the stops for a quality restoration and release. It might've made my top ten except that I actually am not a huge fan of the movie, though I respect its infamous place in cinema—and LGBTQ+—history." - Todd Killinger

   229

           18.    War and Peace [Blu-ray] (Sergey Bondarchuk, 1966) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) "War and Peace - After poor releases on DVD, Criterion allows us to see 7-hour Soviet epic anew, beautifully restored in all its widescreen glory, adding a few thoughtful extras." - Gregory Meshman

   219

           19.    November [Blu-ray] (Rainer Sarnet, 2017) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW) "This bare bones, dual-format edition (just Blu-ray, DVD, trailers and a booklet) presents us with another one-of-a-kind fantasy derived from Eastern European folklore and fairy tales. Its striking black and white photography creates a stark atmosphere and tone at times reminiscent of early Bergman (The Seventh Seal or Hour of the Wolf) as well as Haxan, Parajanov’s Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors, the puppet films of Jan Svankmajer or Aleksei German’s Hard to Be a God. Yet it remains a wholly original vision, a unique cinematic experience superbly rendered by this edition." - Schwarkkve

   217

           20.    The Last Movie [Blu-ray] (Dennis Hopper, 1971) Region Free Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW) "The most wonderful - as well as perhaps most overlooked - release of the year. An incredible package for a film which is only now getting a well deserved critical re-evaluation. The disc is loaded to the brim with extras including Alex Cox's great documentary on the film's troubled history. The restoration itself is incredible while the film itself deserves more attention. " - L H  

     "Dennis Hopper's "The Last Movie" basically brought his rising light as an auteur filmmaker to a standstill due to its polarizing response, though years later the film has been given a second change with brighter opinions. The Indicator release basically ports the extras from last year's US release and adds its own exclusive extras, with the limited edition also sporting a lengthy book and poster that goes deeper into the insane behind the scenes and the reception." - James-Masaki Ryan

    209

           21.    Until the End of the World [Blu-ray] (Wim Wenders, 1991) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) "EXACTLY what Criterion SHOULD be doing: well thought-out, cineastic presentations of lost masterworks." - Peter Yacavone

    206

           22.    RoboCop [Blu-ray] (Paul Verhoeven, 1987) Arrow Video US / UK "This limited edition brings 3 different versions of the film (the superior Directors Cut, as well as the Theatrical version and the hilariously censored TV version) with a wealth of extras. A treat for fans." - L H

    "It's been released on home media several times over, but the Arrow release gives a fairly definitive presentation, with three cuts of the film with many exclusive extras in a handsome package. While it may not port over every extra from previous releases, the new extras included are very well done." - James-Masaki Ryan

    203

           23.    The Thin Man [Blu-ray] (W.S. Van Dyke, 1934) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)  "An early 'screw-ball' comedy flowing into theatres 3 months after Capra's It Happened One Night, back when smoking & drinking in movies was as much fun as it was in real life..." - Simón Cherpitel

    198

           24.    High Noon [Blu-ray] (Fred Zinnemann, 1952) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)  "Stellar special edition overflowing with umpteen supplements which will keep the most hardened of cineastes out of mischief." - David Redfern

    183

           25.    Blue Velvet [Blu-ray] (David Lynch, 1986) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    177

           26.    Naked Alibi [Blu-ray] (Jerry Hopper, 1954) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    164

           27.    Do the Right Thing [Blu-ray] (Spike Lee, 1989) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) "Criterion does the right thing by issuing Spike Lee's most confident film on a double disc Blu-ray, with the red hot and golden color timing approved by cinematographer Ernest Dickerson, a lengthy amount of extras including a restored version of the original making-of. And to add to that a lengthy 108 page book for a classy looking package." - James-Masaki Ryan

    157

           28.    This Island Earth [Blu-ray] (Joseph M. Newman, 1955) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

    129

           29.    Kundun [Blu-ray] (Martin Scorsese, 1997) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    122

           30.    All About Eve [Blu-ray] (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    114

           31.    The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On [Blu-ray] (aka Yuki yukite, shingun) (Kazuo Hara, 1987) Region Free UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)

    106

           32.    Room at the Top [Blu-ray] (Jack Clayton, 1959) RB UK BFI/Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) "The first of the UK 'kitchen sink' movies that oddly today plays better or more contemporaneously than most of its successors. What back then seemed 'slicker' or less authentic than Reisz's or Richardson's movies today seems more stylish & less 'dated'." - Simón Cherpitel

    97

           33.    Alphaville [Blu-ray] (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    87

           34.    The Tall Men [Blu-ray] (Raoul Walsh, 1955) - Twilight Time (BEAVER REVIEW)

    84

           35.    Matewan [Blu-ray] (John Sayles, 1987) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    79

           35.    The Milky Way [Blu-ray] (Luis Bunuel, 1969) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    76

           37.    The Woman in the Window [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1944) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW)  "Another underrated masterpiece, another noir, another definitive edition for a title often mistreated by bootleg labels. " - Alfredo Santoro

    75

           38.    The Corruption of Chris Miller [Blu-ray] (Juan Antonio Bardem, 1973) Vinegar Syndrome (BEAVER REVIEW)

    74

           39.    Der Hund von Baskerville [Blu-ray] (Richard Oswald, 1929) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW) "A recent reconstruction of a German feature hitherto believed to have been missing believed lost. It was shot in the final days of the silent era. Still fluid and watchable today." - David Redfern

    72

           40.    The Silent Partner [Blu-ray] (Daryl Duke, 1978) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    70

           41.    The Bad and the Beautiful [Blu-ray] (Vincente Minnelli, 1952) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)

    68

           42.    The White Reindeer [Blu-ray] (Erik Blomberg, 1952) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW) "Quite the rediscovery of a supernatural classic from Scandinavia, a region not generally known for this particular genre." - Luc Pomerleau

    67

           43.    Beat the Devil [Blu-ray] (John Huston, 1953) - Twilight Time (BEAVER REVIEW) "Magnificent restoration of Huston’s most magnificent folly. REGION FREE" - Peter Yacavone

    64

           44.    A Fistful of Dynamite (aka Duck, You Sucker!) [Blu-ray] (Sergio Leone, 1971) RB UK Masters Of Cinema Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW) "Leone's fun spaghetti epic gets a bumper limited edition release with multiple versions of the film and solid extras. " - L H

    63

           45.    Chernobyl [Blu-ray] (Craig Mazin, 2019) HBO (BEAVER REVIEW)

    62

           46.    A Journey to the Beginning of Time [Blu-ray] (Karel Zeman, 1955) UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)

    50

           47.    Boom! [Blu-ray] (Joseph Losey, 1968) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

    48

           48.    Magnificent Obsession [Blu-ray] (Douglas Sirk, 1954) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

    47

           49.    The Wild Heart [Blu-ray] (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1952) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

    46

           49.    The Queen of Spades [Blu-ray] (Thorold Dickinson, 1949) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

    46

           51.    In Fabric [Blu-ray] (Peter Strickland, 2018) RB UK Curzon Artificial Eye (BEAVER REVIEW)

    44

           51.    Hercules in the Haunted World [Blu-ray] (Mario Bava, 1961) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

    44

 

Multi-selected but didn't make the TOP 50 (in alphabetical order):

 

An American Werewolf in London [Blu-ray] (John Landis, 1981) Arrow Video US (BEAVER REVIEW) "Even after countless re-releases, Arrow manages to give this lycanthrope a fresh set of teeth. Exhaustive extras (both vintage and original) and that top-shelf, slipcase presentation—to say nothing of a sparkling scan of the film itself. Four stars—I mean full moons." - Todd Killinger

Blackmail [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1929) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Body Snatcher [Blu-ray] (Robert Wise, 1945) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW) "After seeing an inferior TV print I needed to see this Lewton B in pristine condition. I can report it is in great shape with solid extras." - David Redfern

A Bucket of Blood [Blu-ray] (Roger Corman, 1959) Olive Signature (BEAVER REVIEW) "Masterworks emanating from the public domain need love and care, so despite niggardly bit-rate, this beautiful-looking, bonus-laden edition needs encouragement so that the people at Olive can turn their attention to D.O.A. and the like!" - Peter Yacavone

Bunny Lake Is Missing [Blu-ray] (Otto Preminger, 1965) Region Free Indicator US (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Circus [Blu-ray] (Charles Chaplin, 1928) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) "Not the most celebrated Chaplin, but one really gets a new appreciation of it in this richly appointed release." - Luc Pomerleau

The Cloud-Capped Star [Blu-ray] (Ritwik Ghatak, 1960) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) "Here is another reason why this list is so Criterion heavy. They undertake the restoration of this film with Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation to give the world a chance to see another work by this unique and idiosyncratic director. Ghatak does not follow anyone's rules in what is correct, but with sound, editing and framing he creates his own world of hallucinatory beauty. And because he deals in melodrama the experience is immersive. Very different from the melodramas of Sirk or Almodovar perhaps, but once seen, never forgotten." Billy Bang

Un Coeur en Hiver (aka A Heart in Winter) [Blu-ray] (Claude Sautet, 1992) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Dead of Night [Blu-ray] (Robert Hamer, Basil Dearden, Charles Crichton, Alberto Cavalcanti, 1945) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) "The grandfather of anthology films given a high-polish 4K restoration and in-depth documentary. Watch out, Criterion, Kino is snapping at your heels." - Todd Killinger

Death in Venice [Blu-ray] (Luchino Visconti, 1971) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Dracula [Blu-ray] (John Badham, 1979) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Fearless Vampire Killers [Blu-ray] (Roman Polanski, 1967) Warner Archive (DVDBeaver REVIEW)

The Fifth Cord [Blu-ray] (Luigi Bazzoni, 1971) Arrow Video UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

Fragment of an Empire (aka Oblomok imperii) [Blu-ray] (Fridrikh Ermler, 1929) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW) "This must have gone under too many people's radar. No way it shouldn't be in the top 50 or even the top 10!" - Gary Tooze

The Heiress [Blu-ray] (William Wyler, 1949) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Leopard Man [Blu-ray] (Jacques Tourneur, 1943) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

Moonfleet [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1955) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)

Murder! [Blu-ray] (Alfred Hitchcock, 1930) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Polyester [Blu-ray] (John Waters, 1981) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Set-Up [Blu-ray] (Robert Wise, 1949) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)

Shadowlands [Blu-ray] (Richard Attenborough, 1993) Universal (BEAVER REVIEW) - "Perhaps Attenborough's most touching & unpretentious movie presenting the restrained romance of Narnia writer & Oxford/Cambridge don C S Lewis with Joy Gresham, which came as an ironic comment on the memoir of his embracing Christianity "Surprised by Joy". - Simón Cherpitel

The Strange Door [Blu-ray] (Joseph Pevney, 1951) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) "Charles Laughton delivers impeccable ham in this Universal-International “quickie” based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson." - David Redfern

Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory (aka Lycanthropus) [Blu-ray] (Paolo Heusch, 1961) Severin (BEAVER REVIEW) "Well... I don't know - I liked Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory. Barbara Lass (Roman Polanski's first wife) certainly has a sexy Barbara Steele-thing going on. Yes, it's hokey as heck and the exploitation, although tempered, is obvious. I loved the black and white cinematography, by Renato Del Frate (as George Patrick), suiting a superior horror with plenty of forest shadows and scientist basements. It's an odd-ball 'Werewolf' flic but maybe that's what I liked about it. It's not Euro-trash and has some respectable production values with the Krimi-link being a huge draw. This is better than you may think!" - Gary Tooze

The World, The Flesh and The Devil [Blu-ray] (Ranald MacDougall, 1959) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)

Upgrade [Blu-ray] (Leigh Whannell, 2018) RB UK Second Sight (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

 

 

THE WINNERS - BOXSETS

 

 

First Place, Criterion's The Koker Trilogy. Abbas Kiarostami first came to international attention for this wondrous, slyly self-referential series of films set in the rural northern-Iranian town of Koker. Poised delicately between fiction and documentary, comedy and tragedy, the lyrical fables in The Koker Trilogy exemplify both the gentle humanism and playful sleight of hand that define the director’s sensibility. The set includes Where Is the Friend’s House? (1987), And Life Goes On (1992), and Through the Olive Trees (1994)

        

        

"An indecipherable beauty & quietness pervades nearly all of Kiarostami's movies" - Simón Cherpitel

"Nothing Criterion has done (with the exception of the Zaitochi box set) has earned my admiration more. Not just 3 brilliant restorations but the generous supplements, including Kiarostami in full flow on 'Truth & Dreams' which is like another take on the making of the trilogy, as 'Through the Olive Trees' was of course. Glorious!" - Billy Bang

 

 

Second Place is Indicator's Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg at Paramount, 1930-1935 - RB UK Indicator. The collaboration between filmmaker Josef von Sternberg and actress Marlene Dietrich is one of the most enduring in all Hollywood cinema. Tasked by Paramount bosses to find 'next big thing', director von Sternberg lighted upon German silent star Dietrich and brought her to Hollywood. Successfully transitioning from the silent to the sound era, together they crafted a series of remarkable features that expressed a previously hitherto unbridled ecstasy in the process of filmmaking itself. Marked by striking cinematography, beautiful design and elaborate camerawork these vibrantly sensuous films redefined cinema of the time, while Dietrich's sexually ambiguous on-screen personas caused a sensation and turned her from actor to superstar and icon. Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg at Paramount, 1930-1935 includes Dishonoured, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, The Devil Is a Woman and Morocco.

   

 

              

 

      

"Indicator overall for achieving graphic diversity while maintaining a very appealing consistent visual identity for their whole line. But most of all for their Dietrich-Sternberg box set, with its amusing pseudo-Art Deco cover, as well as the booklet and the digipacks, all very stylish.

This set easily surpasses the one Criterion put out of those same 6 films. Indicator adds a few very good commentaries (Criterion had none), replicates some extras and adds new ones." - Luc Pomerleau

"Even if it has to be considered as the UK market counterpart of the Criterion box-set released one year ago, it's still the best box-set of the year: for the package, for the extras and, above all, for the beautiful artwork, refitted from the original materials and assembled by Nick Wrigley." - Alfredo Santoro

 

 

Third Place is Criterion's Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films: 1954-1975 (Criterion). In 1954, an enormous beast clawed its way out of the sea, destroying everything in its path—and changing movies forever. The arresting original Godzilla soon gave rise to an entire monster-movie genre (kaiju eiga), but the King of the Monsters continued to reign supreme: in fourteen fiercely entertaining sequels over the next two decades, Godzilla defended its throne against a host of other formidable creatures, transforming from a terrifying symbol of nuclear annihilation into a benevolent (if still belligerent) Earth protector.

 

        

"A package that looked like it would fit on a bookshelf rather than a Blu-ray shelf, the pop art inspired artwork from a selection of artists was an excellent companion to Criterion's release of the "Zatoichi" a few years back. The set just missed the Top Boxsets list, as the extras were a little disappointing with many of the older DVD commentaries and featurettes being left off and the original Japanese version of "King Kong vs Godzilla" having burned-in English subtitles." - James-Masaki Ryan

"The classic daikaju films of my childhood finally given the respect they deserve. I remember back when a laserdisc boxed set was rumored, my heaving media library is glad Criterion took their time and the set bowed in this much less "monstrous" offering. Never thought I'd see these films all in one collection—and certainly not from Criterion. Leave it to them to prove me wrong in such a satisfying manner." - Todd Killinger

"It’s hard to pick any Japanese package over a single Ozu release (e.g. THE FLAVOR OF GREEN TEA OVER RICE from Criterion); but this is a JOY for all completists. For the rest, here are several Japanese fantasy masterworks from Honda Ishiro; a lovely physical package; and THE ORIGINAL JAPANESE VERSION OF GODZILLA vs. KONG (1962)." - Peter Yacavone

 

 

Fourth Place is Indicator's Hammer Volume Four: Faces of Fear - R0 UK Indicator. Four classic Hammer chillers presented on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK. Accompanied by a wealth of new and archival extras – including exclusive new documentaries, audio commentaries, alternative versions, new and archival cast and crew interviews, a series of appreciations of their female stars, analyses of their composers’ scores, and extensive booklets – this stunning limited edition box set is strictly limited to 6,000 units.

   

    

 

              

    

"Another assortment of neglected titles or some that have a checkered reputation. This volume is the most stacked yet, with commentaries galore (even for the trailers) and extras so numerous it is daunting to put each disc into the player. It may be argued that in two cases the overall extras are more interesting than the movie itself (hint: they are both in colour). It's also the first worthwhile presentation on home video of Joseph Losey's SF cautionary parable The Damned, which was stupidly marketed as part of the rebellious teen hoodlums sub-genre." - Luc Pomerleau

"3.5 masterpieces in for the most part ravishing restorations with lovingly curated extras. The best offering from INDICATOR yet and hopefully their new standard" - Peter Yacavone

 

 

 

Fifth Place is Network's Monty Python's Flying Circus Norwegian Blu-Ray Edition. Years in the making, the entire original television series of Monty Python's Flying Circus has been fully rejuvenated for the first time. Sketches, some edited for timing, taste and copyright reasons, have been carefully restored to their intended length and the majority of Terry Gilliam's animations have been newly scanned in High Definition and restored to a specification way beyond their original format.

 

        

"The most creative and surreal of 70s UK comic tv. Lunatic genius worthy of blu ray upgrade." - Moshe Black

"I don’t know when I’ll be able to afford this, but I’ve gone through Gary’s review and extensive documentation of the incredible BBC archival work for this remaster (of a series combining video, 16mm, and more). The results are not as stunning as BBC’s DOCTOR WHO sets, but so what." - Peter Yacavone

"Absolutely stunning restoration work, exhaustive extras, and enough liner notes to choke an albatross. The set weighs more than a dead parrot pining for the fjords and is worth every pound. Network proves once again how much they care for their UK broadcast heritage. " - Todd Killinger

 

 

Six Place is Kino's Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927-1931). Before he became known as the Master of Suspense in Hollywood, Alfred Hitchcock had already established himself as a precociously talented filmmaker in England. Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection brings together five features he directed for the production company that first displayed his talents. Four of them are visually dynamic silent films: atmospheric boxing drama The Ring, sprightly comedies The Farmer’s Wife and Champagne, and a love triangle set on the Isle of Man, The Manxman. Also included is the 1931 sound feature The Skin Game, a rousing melodrama about feuding families. These features display Hitchcock's command of visual language long before his Hollywood sojourn, proving he was a master from the beginning.

   

                  

    

 

 

Seventh Place is Masters of Cinema's Fuller at Fox - Five Films 1951-1957. A towering figure of American cinema, Samuel Fuller was a master of the B-movie, a pulp maestro whose iconoclastic vision elevated the American genre film to new heights. This package has the impossibly tense Korean-War drama Fixed Bayonets! (1951); the outrageous and confrontational spy-thriller Pickup on South Street (1953); the Cold War submarine-actioner Hell and High Water (1954); the lushly photographed, cold-as-ice noir, House of Bamboo (1955); and the audacious Western with a feminist twist, Forty Guns (1957). Also included is Samantha Fuller s 2013 documentary, A Fuller Life, featuring friends and admirers of the great director reading extracts from his memoirs.

    

 

   

   

"In the year of the long goodbye to Fox, it's not without melancholy that we embrace this MoC box-set, with some of the best Fuller features presented in new enhanced masters and accompanied with the Samantha Fuller's documentary "A Fuller Life". - Alfredo Santoro

"Essential package fully upgraded picture and great extras." - Moshe Black

 

 

Eighth Place is Shout! Factory's Universal Horror Collection: Volumes 1, 2 and 3. Universal Horror Collections include tales of terror from the archives of Universal Pictures, the true home of classic horror. These first three collections include The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1936), Black Friday (1940), Murders in the Zoo (1933), The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942), The Strange Case of Doctor Rx (1942), The Mad Ghoul (1943), Tower of London (1939), The Black Cat (1941), Horror Island (1941), and Man Made Monster (1941).

   

       

 

       

 

        

"Shout! takes the top spot with beautiful (and commentary-laden) curations of the perpetually-underrated masterpieces of Universal in their Karloff/Lugosi horror heyday 1931-1939." - Peter Yacavone

"The first volume is the stand-out as it brought together some excellent Lugosi-Karloff vehicles with an abundance of extra features. Volume 2 was a notable step down in terms of the quality of both the movies and of the extras, but Volume 3 marked a partial step up again." - Luc Pomerleau

 

 

Ninth Place is Turbine's Psycho Legacy Collection features the World Premiere f Alfred Hitchcock’s classic uncut on Blu-ray Disc for the first time + Psycho II, III, IV + remake + “Bates motel” TV movie + full-length documentaries “The Making of Psycho”, “Psycho Legacy” & “78/52” on 8 Blu-Ray Discs incl. over 15 hours of bonus features + Audio Commentaries and 4×3 Retro Versions + large size 120 page book “The Psycho Files” by Tobias Hohmann (in German) + Din A1 Poster “Norman Bates” + 4 DIN A2 Posters + 6 Art Cards + Replicas of Sam Loomis’ Letter (English/German) + 25 sheets of “Bates Motel” notepaper and a “Do Not Disturb” door hanger...

 

   

    

"A giant big box with every official release of the Psycho franchise (apart from the tv-series "Bates Motel"). Overwhelmed by lots and lots of physical gadgets, the very reason to blind buy it is because of the inclusion, for the first time, of the original unrated and uncut version of Hitchcock masterpiece, reconstructed including the missing seconds from a HD scan of a German print. " - Alfredo Santoro
 

 

Tenth Place is Indicator's The Shocking Cinema of Norman J Warren (Satan's Slave, Prey, Terror, Inseminoid, Bloody New Year) [Blu-ray] (Norman J Warren, 1976-1987) Region Free. One of British genre cinema’s most important and distinctive independent filmmakers, Norman J Warren made a series of horror films which were at the forefront of a new wave in British horror during the 1970s. Reflecting a period of permissiveness and fearlessness, Warren’s distinctive stylings are far removed from the Gothic conventions of Hammer Films, deliberately upped the ante in terms of sex, violence and gore to create a new breed of horror that was designed to shock for shock’s sake. Five of Norman J Warren’s horrifying chillers are presented here in new restorations

 

        

 

   

"Luxurious box set full of goodies, for the UK master of the 1970s b-movie horror." - Moshe Black

 

NOTABLE Blu-ray BOXSETs in 2019 (but not in Top 10) - in random order):

 

3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg (Criterion)

The Indian Epic: The Tiger of Eschnapur & The Indian Tomb - Fritz Lang, 1959 - Film Movement

Buster Keaton Volume 2: Sherlock Jr / The Navigator (Cohen)

Abbott and Costello - The Complete Universal Pictures Collection (Shout! Factory) (US) (RA) - "The 15 disc set includes 28 features with lengthy documentaries, featurettes, interviews, and commentaries, with the unmistakable comedy duo." - James-Masaki Ryan

Ida Lupino: Filmmaker, Kino Lorber, Region A

Of Flesh and Blood: The Cinema of Hirokazu Koreeda (BFI) (UK) (RB) - "The four disc set an excellent set of earlier works from the master filmmaker that touches emotionally on a very deep and beautiful level in each of the films included. The BFI have provided an excellent collection of works along with a generous selection of extras including a commentary track for each." - James-Masaki Ryan

 A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman Through a Glass Darkly / Winter Light / The Silence - Criterion

The House of Hitchcock Collection (Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window, The Trouble With Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz, Frenzy, Family Plot, Alfred Hitchcock Presents Episodes) (Alfred Hitchcock, 1942-1976) Universal

Blood Hunger: The Films of José Larraz (Whirlpool, The Coming of Sin, Vampyres) (José Ramón Larraz, 1970-1978) Arrow Video

Noir Archive Vols. 1, 2, 3, Millcreek Region FREE

Derek Jarman - Volume 2 (BFI) (UK) (RB) - "The BFI follows up their massive Volume 1 set with the second half of Jarman's career, which continued his standard defying filmmaking style, coupled with his impending death from AIDS. Hours and hours of extras are included in this excellent boxset." - James-Masaki Ryan

The BRD Trilogy: The Marriage of Maria Braun etc. (Criterion)

The Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) [Blu-ray] (Chan-wook Park, 2002-2005) Arrow UK - "The announcement and releases of this set was mangled, with Arrow revealing an extras stacked Oldboy release, then delaying it due to replacements of some extras, then announcing it would include Park's two other films in the Vengeance Trilogy as bonus films, and then issuing the same discs from the Oldboy Limited Edition as "The Vengeance Trilogy" with much better artwork and packaging but having a lesser booklet. With that out of the way, the presentations of the films themselves and the amount of extras were great, as well as replacing the London slang subtitles for Oldboy with retranslated standard subtitles." - James-Masaki Ryan

The Fly Collection Blu-ray - The Fly (1958), Return of the Fly (1959), Curse of the Fly (1965), The Fly (1986) and The Fly II (1989) - Shout! Factory

The Omen Collection; 1976's The Omen, Damien: Omen II, The Final Conflict, Omen IV: The Awakening, and the 2006 The Omen. Shout! Factory

The Ringu Collection (Ringu, Ring 0, Ring 2 and Spiral) Arrow

  Hemisphere Box of Horrors [Blu-ray] (The Blood Drinkers, Curse of the Vampire, Brain of Blood, The Black Cat, Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism) (Various, 1964-1971) Severin - "A very worthy companion to their previous "Blood Island" set, this is one collection of drive-in fare that definitely benefits from insightful commentaries which give the (otherwise a bit dull) films cultural context and interest (at least for this fan)." - Todd Killinger

 

 

BLU-RAYs OF THE YEAR

   
First Place is Criterion's Detour. From Poverty Row came a movie that, perhaps more than any other, epitomizes the dark fatalism at the heart of film noir. As he hitchhikes his way from New York to Los Angeles, a down-on-his-luck nightclub pianist (Tom Neal) finds himself with a dead body on his hands and nowhere to run—a waking nightmare that goes from bad to worse when he picks up the most vicious femme fatale in cinema history, Ann Savage’s snarling, monstrously conniving drifter Vera. Working with no-name stars on a bargain-basement budget, B auteur Edgar G. Ulmer turned threadbare production values and seedy, low-rent atmosphere into indelible pulp poetry. Long unavailable in a format in which its hard-boiled beauty could be fully appreciated, Detour haunts anew in its first major restoration.

            

"Who would have thought it possible? After decades of having to make due with so-so or barely watchable editions of this title, we finally have a 4K digital restoration from excellent source materials- released by Criterion! Detour is not just an example of making the most of what you’ve got, of overcoming budget limitations or crafting a credible B movie from a pig’s ear of pulp material. This restoration reveals Detour to be first rate- a tale of Destiny, of unrelenting Fate and one of the finest of the classic film noirs. Period." - Schwarkkve

"After decades of trash public domain editions around the world, it finally comes the one and only, the definitive release of an underrated masterpiece of American cinema." - Alfredo Santoro

"Others may have first seen this film like I did, in a crummy print, by accident, flipping between channels at a godforsaken hour. Like its atmosphere this film seems to be made for discovery in the twilight zone. It's one of those noir films that is never the same second time around. Still who wouldn't want to thank the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation for their work on this beautiful restoration. There is a fine detailed booklet essay by Robert Polito but for a film only 69 mins long could a commentary also not have been possible? People have waited not years, but DECADES, for this restoration and MORE would have been nice. I was so looking forward to the Edgar G. Ulmer doc but it was too dated and choppy for me for me. I much preferred the Noah Isenberg interview." - Billy Bang

 

 

In Second Place Arrow's Khrustalyov, My Car! Named after the apocryphal exclamation of Soviet security chief Lavrentiy Beria as he rushed to Stalin's deathbed, this blackly funny, deliriously immersive satire distils the anticipation and anxiety in the Moscow air, as the Soviet despot lay dying. Late winter 1953. The lives of nearly half the planet are in Stalin's hands. A military surgeon, General Yuri Georgievich Klensky (Yuri Tsurilo), finds himself a target of the ''Doctors' Plot'': the anti-Semitic conspiracy accusing Jewish doctors in Moscow of planning to assassinate the Soviet elite.

        

Jonathan Rosenbaum's #1 pick this year in our Poll!

"Following on from their wonderful Hard to Be a God release, Arrow have outdone themselves with a lavish limited edition package for German's nightmarish classic. The film truly an experience to behold, and the disc's extras and booklet really help contextualize the cinematic odyssey. " - L H

"Navigating a very obtuse narrative with skill and intellect which helps you maintain your focus on the incredible visual elements of the film." - Oliver Kingdon

 

 

Third Place is Masters of Cinema's Der Golem. An iconic early horror masterpiece, Der Golem was Paul Wegener s third attempt at adapting the Golem character for the big screen. Starring and co-directing with Carl Boese, Wegener crafted one of silent cinema's most enduring masterpieces. In the Jewish ghetto in 16th century Prague, Rabbi Low (Albert Streinruck, Asphalt) creates a forbidding clay Golem (played by director Paul Wegener) to protect his people from the tyrannical Emperor Luhois (Otto Gebuhr). Brought to life with a demon spirit and an amulet placed in the centre of the creature s chest, the Golem is a seemingly indestructible juggernaut, performing acts of great heroism. But when the Rabbi s assistant attempts to control the Golem for selfish gain, it becomes a terrifying force of destruction, rampaging through the ghetto leaving fire and death in its wake.

        

"A silent classic finally gets the treatment it deserves on HD video, with a commentary and useful extras that put it into context and on an equal footing with other equally worthy films of the era that have already seen HD editions." - Luc Pomerleau

"Kudos once again to Eureka—the revered keepers of silent film flame—for this stunning production. A worthy follow-up to "Metropolis" and "Cabinet of Doctor Caligari." - Todd Killinger

 

 

Fourth Place is Flicker Alley's Blu-ray of The Man Who Laughs. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, the story centers on the extraordinary adventures of Conrad Veidt s Gwynplaine, whose wide and mirthless grin inspired DC Comics legendary Batman villain, the Joker. Veidt's character has become well known to most cinephiles. Orphaned as a child, Gwynplaine is punished by the king for his father s transgressions, by having face carved into a hideous grin. Disfigured and alone, Gwynplaine rescues a blind girl Dea, and both end up staring in a sideshow where they fall in love. Because she cannot see, Dea does not know about her lover s tormented grin.

         

 

 

Fifth Place is Kino's Bob le Flambeur - A 4K Restoration! From the legendary director Jean-Pierre Melville. Suffused with wry humor, Bob Le Flambeur melds the toughness of American gangster films with Gallic sophistication to lay the roadmap for the French New Wave. As the neon is extinguished for another dawn, an aging gambler (Roger Duchesne) navigates the treacherous world of pimps, moneymen and naďve associates while plotting one last score—the heist of the Deauville casino. This underworld comedy of manners possesses all the formal beauty, finesse and treacherous allure of green baize. Boasting a wonderful screenplay by Melville and Augusta Le Breton (Raffia, Rizzio) and stunning black-and-white cinematography by Henri Decay.

 

                     

"My favorite Melville and the quintessential 50’s French gangster picture, Bob le Flambeur has it all: neon-infused noir photography by the legendary Henri Decaë, a rogue’s gallery of colorful underworld types, a complex love triangle featuring the world-weary protagonist, his younger protégé and a beautiful, naďve femme fatal, a casino heist, an examination of friendship, integrity, weakness and the respect between professionals on both sides of the law. Kino’s Blu-ray is a solid representation of this excellent film." - Schwarkkve
 

 

Sixth Place is Indicator's No Orchids for Miss Blandish. Possibly the most controversial British film ever produced, this lurid crime drama caused an unprecedented storm of controversy upon release: local councils banned it, the Bishop of London denounced it, and MPs demanded an investigation into the BBFC for allowing it to be seen.
Based on the notorious novel by James Hadley Chase (which itself was condemned by George Orwell), No Orchids for Miss Blandish is a mixture of sex, violence and immorality, and tells the brutal story of a kidnapped heiress who falls for one of her crazed captors. This fascinating example of British film noir, which the Monthly Film Bulletin described as “the most sickening exhibition of brutality, perversion, sex and sadism ever to be shown on a cinema screen.

 

           

 

 

Seventh Place is Severin's VIY. In 19th century Russia, a seminary student is forced to spend three nights with the corpse of a beautiful young witch. But when she rises from the dead to seduce him, it will summon a nightmare of fear, desire and the ultimate demonic mayhem. Bursting with startling imagery and stunning practical effects by directors Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov, this "overlooked classic" (Paste Magazine) has influenced generations of directors for more than half a century and is still unlike any horror movie you've ever seen.

         

Chosen in Gregory Meshman's Top 10!

"Another rare gem finally given a proper polish and mainstream release by the fine folks at Severin. Never thought I'd see this as a domestic release (with requisite belts and whistles, no less). No more grainy YouTube streaming for this witchy tale (though that does somewhat add to its clandestine mystique)." - Todd Killinger

 

 

In Eight Place is Second Run's Blu-ray of A Blonde in Love. Presented from a brand new 4K restoration that premiered at 2019 Cannes Film Festival, A Blonde in Love is widely regarded as one of the great films of the 60s. A subtle and beautifully observed social satire which maintains a remarkable balance between despair and hope, this bittersweet romance from Milo Forman, the multiple Oscar-winning director of Black Peter, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus, unfolds as a sweetly seductive film but also provides a wry critique of life under totalitarianism. Forman is able to distil universal truths from the simplest of situations and present them with a sharp yet compassionate eye.

.

            

In Jonathan Rosenbaum's TOP 10 this Year!

"An upgrade from their earlier DVD release in a HD transfer with a Milos Forman interview and a detailed Michael Brook essay. Everyone remembers the middle section of young lovers in a hotel room and their post coital bliss, but this is sandwiched between two hilarious sections of quotidian desperation, before and after. Also like Kiarostami, mostly done with non professional actors. This film is rightly beloved by many." - Billy Bang

 

 

Ninth Place is Kino's 4K Restoration of Last Year at Marienbad. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 1961 Venice Film Festival, Last Year in Marienbad (1961) is a hypnotically beautiful puzzle box of a film, and one of the most influential in history. Alan Resnais's sensuous tracking shots and Delphine Seyrig's iconic Chanel gowns have become part of the cinematic lexicon, and can now be seen in a gorgeous 4K restoration from StudioCanal.

 

          

"Perhaps the most sublimely austere cinema ever created" - Rob J.
 

 

Tenth Place is Wicked Vision (DE)'s Blu-ray of The Most Dangerous Game. A superb, pre-Code action-adventure film, based upon a famous short story by Richard Connell, it follows big game hunter, Bob Rainsford, (Joel McCrea), as he becomes quarry for another, the opulently deranged Count Zaroff, (floridly played by Leslie Banks). Utilizing some of the amazing sets made for King Kong, the film is sometimes thought of as a place-holder to keep key cast and crew available during Kong's lengthy animation schedule. This included actors Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Noble Johnson and Steve Clemento, as well as editor Archie Marshek, composer Max Steiner, sound effects expert Murray Spivak, illustrators Mario Larrinaga and Byron Crabbe, and optical effects wizards Vernon Walker and Linwood Dunn.

       

"Wicked-Vision Media's Region-Free Blu-ray of "The Most Dangerous Game" deserves some major kudos. The image contains stronger blacks and a more detailed picture, producing finer grain and detail than the previous Flicker Alley Blu. The 2016 audio commentary is included, along with a new 2019 track. Both commentaries are in German with English subtitle options. It's this very attention to detail that's indicative of most of Wicked-Vision's stellar output." - Colin Zavitz
 

 

 

Labels  

1.

Criterion surprised many of their niche when their coveted 1000th spine # was reported as an eight Blu-ray 15 film Godzilla extravaganza boxset. Certainly a divergence from the previous year's 39-film Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema package. The release came with some complaints that may be addressed in a rumored replacement program, but it is loaded with entertainment value. Criterion distinguish themselves from their competitors with the high quality of their world cinema titles and attention to detail in disc production. The innovator of the audio commentary seems to be stepping away from that supplement while others are embracing it aggressively. DVDBeaver-ites still can't get enough of Criterion's consistent value. We'll see what 2020 brings... and what their eventual year-end 'big' package will be. Any guesses? 

 

2.

"Favourite label: Indicator. Reason: Good taste in movies, nice design of booklets, enthusiastic, professional." - Jeff Heinrich

"Indicator UK because they are doing a superb job with & making worthwhile what are mainly 2nd line titles, besides the few truly enduring classics they also issue" - Simón Cherpitel

"Indicator edges out MoC by a nose because of the advised eclecticism of its choices and the consistent quality of each package. " - Luc Pomerleau

 

3.

"Kino Lorber has leaped forth as a top provider of numerous classic titles in generally excellent transfers." - Simón Cherpitel

"Kino Lorber's 2019 offerings were staggering in number, with titles ranging from "Gone Fishin'" to "Last Year at Marienbad". Mad respect" Colin Zavitz

"In my controversial opinion, KINO LORBER have surpassed CRITERION and ARROW as the world’s best distributor/producer of BDs (particularly with their acquisition of Studiocanal titles to follow Universal, Fox, and Disney). Despite famous missteps, they now release an incredibly diverse selection of incredibly high quality films in reliably excellent transfers. Even their humbler releases are often terrific." - Peter Yacavone

 

4.

"This was an exceptional year from Eureka from their Montage Film releases and Eureka Classics series and the tried-and-true Masters of Cinema Gold-standard. They have stepped-up to the massive competition in the digital media space and continue to improve with their niche of film aficionado consumers being the biggest beneficiary. They will always have my support (and so will DVDBeaver.) - Sam Whitney

"Seemingly granted a windfall by the releases of martial arts films from Jackie Chan and others (of very high quality despite not making my lists), they are now pursuing more releases from Buster Keaton and King Hu in 2020 (plus much more yet to be announced if their quality this year is maintained). Add consistent customer service and an entirely positive site redesign and they get my vote." - Oliver Kingdon

 

5.

"Arrow wins this narrowly for me. However, this is really a great time for Boutique labels putting out obscure gems with beautiful transfers and restoration work. I feel indebted to many labels, both literally and figuratively. I limited my top ten releases to one per label to show the field of great labels doing the lord's work." - Jason Overbeck

"Arrow has been the most consistent for high quality single releases. Khrustalyov my Car! is a standout without a doubt, they should be commended for bringing another bold and wondrous Alexei German masterpiece to boutique movie-buying audiences. " - L H

"Criterion, Scream Factory, Network, Indicator, they all came close, but time after time I have to say my enjoyment of Arrow's quality releases—each stacked with amazing supplements, stunning Arrow-sponsored restorations, and topped off with gorgeous, original cover art—puts them over the top for me. Japanese musicals, Spaghetti westerns, 80's teen flicks, horror, sci-fi, comedy, everything Arrow takes aim at ends with a bullseye." - Todd Killinger

 

The rest (no order)

In our community, Second Run are know as the good guys... for legitimate reasons. They are good guys and produce some of the most unique fan-favorite content in the Blu-ray sphere. Specialties include Czech new Wave and European content, plus directorial rarities and less-seen documentaries. There release are almost exclusively region FREE and we love to help expose their product to the entire world.

 

"Named after the pedestrian street (Cecil Court) in London, England, linking Charing Cross Road and St Martin's Lane - the business center of the British film industry during the silent film era. “Flicker Alley” is one of THE most professional curators of silent, classic, experimental and independent cinema production on Blu-ray. Period. I don't know where I'd be without them. They have my vote, for the second year in a row, for favorite Blu-ray producer" - Stan Theodore

 

Here at DVDBeaver, we are so happy that Network out of the UK have taken the plunge into Blu-ray. We have reviewed many of their DVDs over the years and the titles definitely have a synergy with our following. They deserve a huge congratulations on the gargantuan Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Complete Series Blu-ray set and we await more British noir like Green For Danger, from their British-centric catalogue, to reach 1080P in 2020!

 

"Warner Archive continues to offer more American movies of general quality & entertainment than anyone else because of the depth of their stockpile." - Simón Cherpitel

"Warner Archive have some of the greatest films in their library, however we get constant comments in Social Media about lack of new extras and SHOUTING, and/or yellow, subtitles. We love you Warner... love us back!" - Gary Tooze

 

Synapse Films releases new, digitally remastered films in the Horror, Science Fiction, Cult and Independent genres on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD. This would be a landmark year with their stellar release of Dario Argento's 1977 Suspiria on stellar 4K UHD. Like everyone else, all we can say is 'Wow'. They deserve some special recognition and our continued support. I can't wait to see what they produce in 2020!

 

"British Film Institute keeps going with classic titles from years past while publishing Sight & Sound magazine that's been going since 1932 = 88 years!" - Simón Cherpitel

"BFI - Consistently bringing a diverse amount of content from its home country of the UK to a new spotlight, as well as with international cinema and digging through their vaults for some unique extras, the label had a stellar selection of works released this year." - James-Masaki Ryan

 

"Vinegar Syndrome - Not only did they drop tons of killer releases with unimpechable transfers and best-in-the-biz packaging and artwork, but they also released their first 4K disc!" - Jordan Johnson

"Vinegar Syndrome continues releasing overlooked films from the past, with 2019 seeing some great premieres/restorations, such as; "Taking Tiger Mountain", "Putney Swope", "Secta Siniestra", "Hell Comes to Frogtown", "Amityville: The Cursed Collection", "Berserker", "Decoder", "The Candy Snatchers", "Nightbeast", "Lust in the Dust", "In the Cold of the Night", their first ever 4K UHD title, "Tammy and the T-Rex", and my pick for their finest release of the year, "The Corruption of Chris Miller"." - Colin Zavitz

Severin is dedicated to rescuing, restoring and releasing the most controversial and provocative features from around the world. Included this year beyond their lauded VIY, were the unrated Director’s Cut of Gwendoline (aka The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak), Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory (aka Lycanthropus) (that Gary loved), Joe D'Amato's Emanuelle and Francoise, Killer Crocodile, 1959's Jack the Ripper, the wonderful All the Colors of Giallo 3-Disc Collection, Sergio Martino's All the Colors of the Dark, the Hemisphere Box of Horrors (The Blood Drinkers, Curse of the Vampire, Brain of Blood, The Black Cat, Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism) and Escape From Women's Prison plus much more... long may they reign! - Colin Zavitz

 

Wild Side Video in France stand out as having the most impressive books included in their impressive Blu-ray box sets. I've never seen anything like them in all my years of reviewing - most have hundreds of stunningly beautiful full page photos and (relatively, very little) French text. It is amazing. They are, unfortunately, contractually obligated to have mandatory French subtitles (for English, or other) languages in their packages. So they are exceedingly French-friendly but we love seeing what they are coming out with as the packages themselves border on being 'art'. Can't wait to see what they release in 2020!

 

Grindhouse Releasing is a Hollywood-based distribution company dedicated to the restoration and preservation of classic exploitation films. They have been quiet for a while prompting more than a few emails to inquire as to their health. We here at DVDBeaver have always appreciated their past diverse output from The Big Gundown to The Swimmer, from the Poliziotteschi The Tough Ones to Lucio Fulci's dream-like Giallo The Beyond, the allegorical independent film, An American Hippie in Israel, Corruption with Peter Cushing, Pieces with Lynda Day George and more. We hope they return in 2020 with a new slate of exciting exploitation titles brought to Blu-ray!

 

"Twilight Time are probably the most consistent Blu-ray production company. Solid 4K-sourced, dual-layered transfers with 30 Mbps bitrates, often supplemented with astute commentaries and we dearly hope they can continue with their impressive output of strong films to 1080P in the coming years." - Gary Tooze

 

"After Nick's (Redman) death (God bless him) early this year & Julie Kirgo being let go, the Twilight Time label is sadly disappearing into darkness." - Simón Cherpitel

 

Another independent producer, Mondo Macabro has some of the most provocative world cinema content; released in 2019 - 1969's Greek prisonsploitation The Wild Pussycat, 1971's French Gothic sex/horror The Devil's Nightmare, 1975 Spanish Horror Killing of the Dolls, the South Korean oddity Woman Chasing the Butterfly of Death, and the unbridled perversity romp Emanuelle in America. Not every world cinephile's cup-of-tea but we encourage them to expand their content and we will help them reach new audiences in any way we can. This is stuff you aren't likely to see anywhere else!    

Shout! Factory remain a bit of a conundrum to us here at DVDBeaver. We love so many of their titles from extensive Hammer Studios output to classic genre sci-fi and horror films. But when I think of their marquee releases of the year; say, the stacked 1988's The Blob and loaded The Fly Collection. Together I think they only received a lone vote in our poll. Our niche loved their Universal Horror Collection sets, essential Noirs The Glass Key, This Gun for Hire, and Criss Cross. De Palma's Obsession, and interesting titles like The Vengeance of She, Someone to Watch Over Me, Boom!, The Entity , Fright, 1979's Dracula, plus vintage sci-fi horror like The Mole People, The Body Snatcher, Tarantula, The Alligator People, The Monolith Monsters, Monster on the Campus, This Island Earth, The Leopard Man, The Leech Woman, Circus of Horrors, the Ozploitation thriller Road Games, and I was very keen on their 1932's Murders in the Rue Morgue. Perhaps their corporate facade that doesn't really put a human face on their product - one told me that they work feels formulaic. I don't know. Their products are usually loaded with extras and commentaries, some of the best covers - and fans are appreciative. We would like to connect with them in 2020 and continue support them. We are anxious for more of the Roger Corman library, Hammer, Universal horror and steelbooks!    

 

Film Noir on Blu-ray

It's been another great year for fans of classic film noir. The Criterion Collection started us off with their upgrade of Hitchcock's Notorious in January and Flicker Alley ends it in December with Film Noir Foundation's restoration of underrated Trapped. Two of the most wanted titles, Detour and Phantom Lady finally joined the high-definition format in both US and UK from Criterion and Arrow Academy, respectively.

Warner Archive finally upgraded The Set-Up, finishing off Warner's essential DVD boxset Film Noir Classic Collection Volume 1. From Volumes 2-5, only On Dangerous Ground is available on Blu-ray, so there is a long way to go. Gaslight and The Letter are 2 other titles released on Blu-ray by Warner Archive, unfortunately their original versions - British Gaslight (1940) and early talkie The Letter (1929) - did not get HD treatment, but earlier Gaslight is included on disc in SD.

Kit Parker Films gave us three 9-film collections of noirs and near-noirs from Columbia Pictures, some of them previously only available in DVD-R and most of them never expected to get HD treatment at all. Despite packing 3 films on each disc, the quality is surprisingly good - you can notice in our comparisons what a difference higher resolution makes!

UK is still a great source of essential noir that otherwise unavailable in US - Human Desire from Eureka, The Reckless Moment from Indicator and Nightfall from Arrow Academy. Two latter releases are region free! Speaking of Arrow Academy, The Big Clock and 2 Joseph H. Lewis underrated noirs, My Name Is Julia Ross and So Dark the Night, received simultaneous releases in UK and US.

Along with British noir, we decided to expand the list to include French titles from the classic film noir period. There were many British and French noirs receiving HD treatment in 2019 - from proto-noirs Poison Pen and Port of Shadows to late in the cycle Psyche 59 and The Third Secret. Jean-Pierre Melville's 2 classics Bob le flambeur and Le Doulos went from Criterion DVD to Kino Lorber Blu-ray discs without losing in quality (unlike Becker's Touchez pas au grisbi that suffers from poor transfer).

This Gun for Hire was a great release from Shout! Factory, but Criss Cross and The Glass Key suffer from some softness. Another disappointment is 2 films in Ida Lupino's boxset - The Bigamist and The Hitch-Hiker "upgrade", especially in comparison to their stellar releases of Desert Fury and Naked Alibi.

We look forward to what 2020 brings and already posted our first noir Blu-ray review of the new year - British noir The Slasher aka Cosh Boy from Kino Lorber.

-Gregory Meshman

'Dark Cinema' released on Blu-ray in 2019:

 

5 Against the House (Phil Karlson, 1955) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
711 Ocean Drive (Joseph M. Newman, 1950) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Address Unknown (William Cameron Menzies, 1944) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Assignment: Paris (Robert Parrish, Phil Karlson, 1952) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Bait (Hugo Haas, 1954) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Beautiful Stranger (David Miller, 1954) RB UK Network
The Big Clock (John Farrow, 1948) Arrow Academy (BEAVER REVIEW) "Australian born director John Farrow directs his wife Maureen O’Sullivan, Ray Milland, Charles Laughton and his wife Elsa Lanchester with competent assurance." - David Redfern
The Bigamist (Ida Lupino, 1953) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Black Book (aka Reign of Terror) (Anthony Mann, 1949) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Bloody Brood (Julian Roffman, 1959) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Bob le flambeur (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Caretaker (aka The Guest) (Clive Donner, 1963) RB UK BFI
The Case Against Brooklyn (Paul Wendkos, 1958) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Cell 2455, Death Row (Fred F. Sears, 1954) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Criminal (aka The Concrete Jungle) (Joseph Losey, 1960) RB UK
The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1959) Kit Parker Films
Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak, 1949) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Crooked Web (Nathan Juran, 1955) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Damned (aka These Are the Damned) (Joseph Losey, 1962) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Dark City (William Dieterle, 1950) RB UK Arrow Academy
Dead of Night (Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer, 1945) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) "The grandfather of anthology films given a high-polish 4K restoration and in-depth documentary. Watch out, Criterion, Kino is snapping at your heels." - Todd Killinger
Desert Fury (Lewis Allen, 1947) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945) The Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
Le Doulos (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) "A toss-up with Melville’s later UN FLIC as representative of KINO’s fantastic offerings of Gallic Noir (e.g. TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI): perhaps the best sustained wave of BD releases, if calculated in terms of genre, in several years." - Peter Yacavone
Dragonwyck (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1946) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Escape in the Fog (Budd Boetticher, 1945) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Footsteps in the Fog (Arthur Lubin, 1955) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Glass Key (Stuart Heisler, 1942) Shout! Factory
(BEAVER REVIEW)
Green for Danger (Sidney Gilliat, 1946) RB UK Network (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Guilt of Janet Ames (Henry Levin, 1947) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Gun Runners (Don Siegel, 1958) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Hitch-Hiker (Ida Lupino, 1953) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Human Desire (Fritz Lang, 1954) RB UK Eureka Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
It Always Rains on Sundays (Robert Hamer, 1947) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Johnny Allegro (Ted Tetzlaff, 1949) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Kansas City Confidential (Phil Karlson, 1952) R0 FR Rimini Editions (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Killer That Stalked New York (Earl McEvoy, 1950) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944) RB UK Eureka Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Letter (William Wyler, 1940) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Lineup (Don Siegel, 1958) Kit Parker Films
The Long Dark Hall (Reginald Beck, 1951) RB UK Network
The Long Haul (Ken Hughes, 1957) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Man Between (Carol Reed, 1953) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Man on a String (André De Toth, 1960) Kit Parker Films
The Miami Story (Fred F. Sears, 1954) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Midnight Lace (David Miller, 1960) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Mirage (Edward Dmytryk, 1965) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
My Name Is Julia Ross (Joseph H. Lewis, 1945) Arrow Academy (BEAVER REVIEW)
Naked Alibi (Jerry Hopper, 1954) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
New Orleans Uncensored (William Castle, 1955) Kit Parker Films
The Night Has Eyes (aka Terror House) (Leslie Arliss, 1942) RB UK Network
The Night Holds Terror (Andrew L. Stone, 1955) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)

Night and the City (Jules Dassin, 1950) Wild Side (BEAVER REVIEW)
Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1956) R0 UK Arrow Academy
No Orchids for Miss Blandish (aka Black Dice) (St. John Legh Clowes, 1948) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946) The Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)
Panique (aka Panic) (Julien Duvivier, 1946) The Criterion Collection (BEAVER REVIEW)  "Welcome release of a hard-to-see Julian Duvivier thriller." - David Redfern
Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak, 1944) Arrow Academy (BEAVER REVIEW)
Pickup Alley (aka Interpol) (John Gilling, 1957) Kit Parker Films / RB UK Arrow Academy (BEAVER REVIEW)
Poison Pen (Paul L. Stein, 1939) RB UK Network
Port of Shadows (aka Les Quai des brumes) (Marcel Carné, 1938) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Portrait in Black (Michael Gordon, 1960) Kino Lorber
Psyche 59 (Alexander Singer, 1964) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Queen of Spades (Thorold Dickinson, 1949) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Razzia sur la chnouf (Henri Decoin, 1955) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Reckless Moment (Max Ophüls, 1949) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Rumble on the Docks ( Fred F. Sears , 1956) Kit Parker Films
The Running Man (Carol Reed, 1963) Arrow Academy (BEAVER REVIEW)
Secret People (Thorold Dickinson, 1952) RB UK Network
The Set-Up (Robert Wise, 1949) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW)
Seven Days to Noon (John Boulting,Roy Boulting, 1950) Kino Lorber
The Shadow on the Window (William Asher, 1957) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
She Played with Fire (aka Fortune Is a Woman) (Sidney Gilliat, 1957) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
So Dark the Night (Joseph H. Lewis, 1946) Arrow Academy (BEAVER REVIEW)
Spin a Dark Web (aka Soho Incident) (Vernon Sewell, 1956) Kit Parker Films
Taste of Fear (aka Scream of Fear) (Seth Holt, 1961) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
They Made Me a Fugitive (aka I Became a Criminal) (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1947) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Third Secret (Charles Crichton, 1964) RB UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
This Gun for Hire (Frank Tuttle, 1942) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Tijuana Story (László Kardos, 1957) Kit Parker Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
Time Without Pity (Joseph Losey, 1957) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
Touchez pas au grisbi (aka Hands Off the Loot) (Jacques Becker, 1954) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Trapped (Richard Fleischer, 1949) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)
Whirlpool (Otto Preminger, 1949) Twilight Time
Woman in Hiding (Michael Gordon, 1950) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang, 1944) RB UK Eureka Video (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

 

 

Giallo on Blu-ray in 2019

 

The term "giallo" (translated literally as "yellow") refers to a particular cinematic form of, mostly, Italian-produced murder mystery films that can blur the line between art and exploitation. There are new Giallo Blu-ray releases this past year:..

 

All the Colors of the Dark (Sergio Martino, 1972) Severin (BEAVER REVIEW)
A Black Veil for Lisa (Massimo Dallamano, 1968) RB UK 88 Films (ALT-Blu-ray REVIEW)
The Bloodstained Butterfly (Duccio Tessari, 1971) RB Austria / Germany Camera Obscura (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Corruption of Chris Miller (Juan Antonio Bardem, 1973) Vinegar Syndrome (BEAVER REVIEW)
Double Face (Riccardo Freda, 1969) UK Arrow Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Fifth Cord (Luigi Bazzoni, 1971) Arrow Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (Luciano Ercoli, 1970) Arrow Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (Riccardo Freda, 1971) Arrow Video US (BEAVER REVIEW)
Killer Nun (Giulio Berruti, 1979) Arrow Video
The Killer of Dolls (Miguel Madrid, 1975) Mondo Macabro
Murderock (Lucio Fulci, 1984) Scorpion Releasing
The New York Ripper (3-Disc Edition) (Lucio Fulci, 1982) Blue Underground
Night Killer (Claudio Fragasso, Bruno Mattei, 1990) Severin
Nightmare Beach (Umberto Lenzi, 1989) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)
Opera (aka Terror at the Opera) (Dario Argento, 1987) Scorpion Releasing (Deluxe Edition) / RB UK Cult Films
Paganini Horror (Luigi Cozzi, 1989) Severin / RB UK 88 Films
Plot of Fear (Paolo Cavara, 1976) RB Germany Cineploit
The Possessed (Luigi Bazzoni, Franco Rossellini, 1965) Arrow Video (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Psychic (Lucio Fulci, 1977) Scorpion Releasing (BEAVER REVIEW)
Strip Nude for Your Killer (Andrea Bianchi, 1975) Arrow Video
Touch of Death (Lucio Fulci, 1988) Raro Video
Watch Me When I Kill (Antonio Bido, 1977) Synapse Films (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Wax Mask (Sergio Stivaletti, 1997) Severin
Who Saw Her Die? (Aldo Lado, 1972) Arrow US (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

 

Hammer Studios on Blu-ray in 2019

 

Last year (2018) Warner Archive brought us Hammer titles Dracula A.D. 1972, 1958's Horror of Dracula and 1973's The Satanic Rites of Dracula to Blu-ray but this year nothing except the Hammer-esque The Fearless Vampire Killers directed by Roman Polanski.  Shout! Factory took the 'bull by the horns' or rather 'the vampire by the throat' this past year with 18 Hammer Studios Blu-ray editions loaded with commentaries and supplements. Thankfully 2019 also had the wildly popular Indicator Hammer Volume Four: Faces of Fear Region FREE Blu-ray boxset with Taste of Fear, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Revenge of Frankenstein, and The Damned.

 

"Quatermass 2, Quatermass and the Pit, The Abominable Snowman, A Nigel Kneale trifecta, with older commentaries (featuring the scriptwriter and the directors) and new ones, as well as archival extras and several new ones. Probably the definitive editions for these titles." - Luc Pomerleau

 

The Abominable Snowman (Val Guest, 1957) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (Seth Holt, Michael Carreras, 1971) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Devil Rides Out (Terence Fisher, 1968) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (Roy Ward Baker, 1971) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
Fear in the Night (Jimmy Sangster, 1972) Shout! Factory (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
Frankenstein Created Woman (Terence Fisher, 1967) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Horror of Frankenstein (Jimmy Sangster, 1970) Shout! Factory (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Roy Ward Baker, 1974) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW) - "Rumor has it Shout Factory held up release of this title so they could obtain both cuts of the feature. Delighted to finally have this oft-overlooked Hammer oddity in my collection (though I'll still hold onto my Anchor Bay DVD for nostalgia's sake). Tough to choose only one flick from Scream Factory's warmly received Hammer releases, but this is a shining example of what they are able to do and do well." - Todd Killinger
Lust for a Vampire (Jimmy Sangster, 1971) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Plague of the Zombies (John Gilling, 1966) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
Quatermass 2 (Val Guest, 1957) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
Quatermass and the Pit (Roy Ward Baker, 1967) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Reptile (John Gilling, 1966) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Revenge of Frankenstein (Terence Fisher, 1958) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films)
Scars of Dracula (Roy Ward Baker, 1970) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
Straight on Till Morning (Peter Collinson, 1972) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
Taste of Fear (aka Scream of Fear) (Seth Holt, 1961) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Damned (aka These Are the Damned) (Joseph Losey, 1962) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
To the Devil... a Daughter (Peter Sykes, 1976) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (Terence Fisher, 1960) R0 UK Indicator (Powerhouse Films) (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Vengeance of She (Cliff Owen, 1968) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Witches (Cyril Frankel, 1966) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

 

TV

 

We don't usually venture to the the many Dr. Who sets, Game of Thrones, Japanese Anime, Animated Superhero (Batman, Teen Titans etc.), The Handmaid's Tale etc. etc. but our niche, who tend to have a nostalgic view on things, and are beginning to appreciate vintage (and some modern) TV on Blu-ray, in the form of complete broadcast series, Mini-series and the occasional 'Made-for-TV' Movie.

 

In late 2018 we reviewed these vintage Television series:

 

(CLICK COVERS For REVIEWS)

 

     

 

And in 2019 we had more original 'TV' to cover or explore here are a few of the Blu-ray editions mentioned in our poll:

 

"Scooby-Doo Where Are You! (Warner Brothers) - A complete nostalgia vote, this is a wonderful 50th birthday Scooby Snack all gussied up on blu-ray and delivered in an amazing 3-D haunted house. Maybe not the most exhaustive extras one might want, but they do those meddling kids proud." - Todd Killinger

 

"Personally, I was blown away by Chernobyl, Fawlty Towers had me in tears I was laughing so hard, Jonny Quest was pure joy to revisit with my sons, and I'm a big Jesse Stone fans and it was very pleasing to see three of those neo-noirs in HD. We, obviously, can't forget the elephant in the room - Network's Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Complete Series Blu-ray set. " - Gary Tooze

 

(CLICK For REVIEW / PURCHASE LINK)

 

   

   

 

  

     

   

   

   

 

 

The new 4K UHD format requires both a 4K TV and 4K UHD Player. Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are incompatible with existing Blu-ray players, although the 4K UHD Players are backwards compatible (The Oppo Digital UDP-203 will play 4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, DVD-Audio, SACD, and CD.) The format currently supports three disc capacities, each with their own data rate: 50 GB with 82 Mbit/s, 66 GB with 108 Mbit/s, and 100 GB with 128 Mbit/s. There is content available from Sony, Lionsgate, Warner Bros. 20th Century Fox, Paramount Home Media Distribution, and Walt Disney Studios. It destroys streaming in terms of quality, this format is Region FREE playable worldwide plus more broadcast is going the 4K route - notably for live sports. This is different from 4K restored Blu-ray transfers which are becoming more common from Criterion, Arrow and others. As stated above, DVDBeaver has purchased a OLED65 LG TV with Dolby Vision + HDR (increasing the color depth to 10-bit per color) plus a versatile Oppo Digital UDP-203 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. But we have not reviewed any UHD titles to date. Predictably this format is superior to Blu-ray (3,840 x 2,160 resolution) and has initially gravitated to releasing popular, modern, action and visually dynamic film in this disc format (see the majority below). We hope to see some Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), South Pacific (1958), Ben-Hur (1959), West Side Story (1961), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Cleopatra (1963), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), My Fair Lady (1964), The Sound of Music (1965,) Airport (1970), and Patton (1970) in this format in the near future.

 

Coming in 2020:

   

 

The 4K UHD - the format is continuing with improved support and our Poll had more selections compared to last year and we have reviewed (with screen captures!) Suspiria Pan's Labyrinth The Wizard of Oz,  The Shining,  Batman Returns, Don't Look Now,  The Man Who Killed Killed and then The Bigfoot Bram Stoker's Dracula,  Lucy,  They Live Shutter Island,  The Matrix, Alien, Toy Story,  A Few Good Men,  2001: A Space Odyssey, Schindler's List,  The Neon Demon, Dawn of the Dead,  Saving Private Ryan,  The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,  The Big Lebowski, and I Am Legend.

 

The TOP 10 vote-getters for 2019:

 
 

 

First Place is Lionsgate's Apocalypse Now - Final Cut 40th Anniversary [4K UHD] (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) . A never-before-seen and newly restored cut of Francis Ford Coppola’s spectacular cinematic masterpiece in a way which the director believes “looks better than it has ever looked and sounds better than it has ever sounded”. Apocalypse Now follows Army Captain Willard (Martin Sheen,) a troubled man sent on a dangerous and mesmerizing odyssey into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade American colonel named Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has succumbed to the horrors of war and barricaded himself in a remote outpost.

               

 

 

Second Place is Synapse's Suspiria [4K UHD] (Dario Argento, 1977) Synapse Films. Jessica Harper stars in this frightening tale of a young student who uncovers dark and horrific secrets within the walls of a famous German dance academy. What spirals out from that simple premise is one of the most powerful and hallucinatory nightmares ever captured on celluloid! Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA comes to home video from Synapse Films in an exclusive new 4K restoration from the original uncut, uncensored 35mm Italian camera negative, with the original theatrical 4.0 English surround sound mix.

 

       

 

       

 

 

Third Place is Warner's The Shining [4K UHD] (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Region Free Warner. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer's block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack's writing goes nowhere and Danny's visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel's dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.  

       

 

      

 

 

In Fourth Place is Fox’s Alien. "In space, no one can hear you scream." A close encounter of the third kind becomes a Jaws-style nightmare when an alien invades a spacecraft in Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror classic. On the way home from a mission for the Company, the Nostromo's crew is woken up from hibernation by the ship's Mother computer to answer a distress signal from a nearby planet. Capt. Dallas's (Tom Skerritt) rescue team discovers a bizarre pod field, but things get even stranger when a face-hugging creature bursts out of a pod and attaches itself to Kane (John Hurt).

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Fifth Place is Studio Canal's Nic Roeg's Don't Look Now. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie give career-best performances as John and Laura Baxter, an art restorer and his wife struggling to recover from the trauma of their daughter’s accidental drowning. To assuage their grief, the young British couple travel to wintry Venice, on a working holiday to restore a church. Once there, they get involved with two otherworldly sisters, Heather and Wendy (Hilary Mason and Clelia Matania), one of whom is a blind medium who insists she can get them in touch with their late daughter and warns them of danger. A truly original work that blends psychological thriller with a disturbing sense of the macabre, Don’t Look Now also offers a profound and poignant mediation on love and loss. Making evocative use of its disquieting, out-of-season setting, an emerging generation of directors (not least Steven Soderbergh) have cited the film as an influence, ensuring that its reputation as a modern classic continues to grow.

 

           

 

"This is what we need physical media for. Leaps and bounds over the other editions! Now where is the Man Who Fell to Earth" - Peter Yacavone

 

"Don't Look Now is such a deep film experience that you can get something new out of each time you view it. It's parental bereavement issues, mystery and horror elements and so underplayed at time that it keeps you at a very high level of suspense. As the extras can testify Roeg's 'language of color' is brilliant and unique - remaining an integral part of the narrative. The 4K UHD image is out-of-this-world and there are new highly valuable extras. It couldn't happen to a more relevant film. Home theater aficionados are truly living in the best of times." - Gary Tooze

 

 

In Sixth Place is Warner's The Wizard of Oz. The fantasy/musical plot needs no preface, but - Dorothy (Garland) is a schoolgirl living in Kansas with family and her little dog, Toto. One afternoon, a twister sucks up Dorothy's house and she and Toto are dropped beyond the rainbow into Munchkinland. With a pair of magical red slippers and some advice from Glinda the Good Witch (Billie Burke), Dorothy, Toto and three new friends--the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), Tin Man (Jack Haley), and Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr)--follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, where they must ask the all-powerful Wizard of Oz (Frank Morgan) to get Dorothy and Toto back home. The Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton), however, is determined to get her hands on the slippers, and sends out her flying monkeys to capture the group of new friends...

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"What can you say? - an absolute must-own and every few years, or 1/2 decade, I revisit and remember the film's brilliance. Our culture would be weaker without The Wizard of Oz and this is, quite handily, the best home theatre presentation of all time. It's hypnotic - once you start you can't stop. Our highest recommendation!" - Gary Tooze
 

 

Seven Place is Studio Canal's They Live.

NOTE: It was released in late 2018 but our review was not till the summer of 2019, confusing many voters. Our bad. It still got the seventh most votes so we decided to leave it since I love it so much.

Set in an oppressive Reagan-era Los Angeles, a place in the midst of a financial depression, John Nada is a drifter in search of work. Landing a job on a construction site and a place to stay in a homeless shanty town, Nada stumbles upon an underground group and a pair of magical sunglasses that allow him to see the truth – that aliens are among us and control us through radio waves and subliminal advertising. Looking through the sunglasses, we see a startling depiction a drab grey world filled with creepy looking aliens and embossed with sloganeering (‘Obey’, ‘Conform’, ‘Marry and Reproduce’).

 

              

 

"This is my most rewatched John Carpenter film - myself and my two sons love the passive alien invasion angle, and the noble drifter, perfectly played by Rowdy Roddy Piper - who's "Nada" is reluctantly exposed to the conspiracy. Carpenter's, prescient, deeper themes continue to seem even more contemporary. The 4K package is a winner - a huge advancement in a/v and all the previous extras plus a new 3/4 hour documentary. If you appreciate this film - the Studio Canal 4K UHD is, by far, the best presentation and contains the most extras." - Gary Tooze

 

 

In Eighth Place is Warner's Batman Returns. In this first sequel to 1989's Batman, the Caped Crusader (Michael Keaton) is up against the Penguin (Danny DeVito), the hideously deformed scion of a wealthy Gotham City family. The Penguin plots with evil businessman Max Schreck (Christopher Walken) to become mayor and then turn Gotham into a cathedral of crime. Upon overhearing these plans, Schreck's mousy secretary Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) is tossed from a high-rise window by her boss. Rescued by a covey of kittens, Selena transforms into the leather-clad Catwoman. In this guise, she teams with the Penguin and Schreck to divvy up their ill-gotten gains and help discredit Batman-but she also has her own scores to settle.

 

"Batman Returns is such a visual and character-driven film. Of the early Batmans' - it remains my favorite - mostly, I think, because of the eclectic villains - even Walken is superb - and, let's not forget, Burton's 'decor' (adore the Wayne Mansion) plus the obvious with the ultimately alluring Miss Pfeiffer as an unforgettable Catwoman / Selina Kyle. Great dialogue here too - fun and 'superhero'-serious at the same time. I was very pleased to view it in the 4K UHD presentation. I still love the score and frequent eye-candy. If you enjoy Batman Returns - this is the digital version to watch it with." - Gary Tooze

 

    

 

    

 

 

 

Ninth Place is Lionsgate's The Witch. In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelops a farmer (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie) and four of their children when youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan's faith, loyalty and love to one another.

 

       

"I'm glad the film got attention - many did not like The Witch - and others, like myself, loved it. I have bought this on the strength of the poll voting and look forward to watching it in 4K UHD. I was especially keen on the dialogue" - Gary
 

 

In Tenth Place is Vinegar Syndrome's Tammy and the T-Rex.  Tammy is a popular high school cheerleader whose new boyfriend, Michael, might be the love of her life. But Tammy’s jealous ex, Billy, won’t stand for anyone coming between him and ‘his’ girl, so he and his friends kidnap Michael, leaving him to be mauled by a lion in a local wildlife reserve. Comatose and at death’s door, Michael’s body is stolen from the hospital by mad scientist Dr. Wachenstein, who extracts his brain and implants it into a giant robotic T-Rex. Horrified by his predicament and new dinosaur body, he escapes from the doctor’s lab and begins brutally killing his former bullies. Meanwhile Tammy and her best friend Byron start searching for a suitable human corpse in which to re-transplant Michael's brain...

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"Well, more than a dozen people voted for this, Vinegar Syndrome's first foray into 4K UHD. It was released on their site in 2019 but doesn't come to Amazon till January 2020. We have a copy and will review!" - Gary

OUR BANNER CONTEST:

 

No one got them all but one individual were close with only 4 incorrect -

(kudos to the winner David Gillman and second place to Jeff Heinrich and Connie M.)

 

TOP ROW (left to right):


The Shining, Secret Ceremony, Robocop, All About Eve, Suspiria ('77), 'Monty Python's Flying Circus', Wizard of Oz, Blonde Venus, Man Without a Star, Jezebel, In Fabric, The Story of Temple Drake, Notorious, Fragment of an Empire, Last Year at Marienbad, Gone to Earth, Klute, Cruising, L'Argent, Quartermass and the Pit, This Island Earth, The Leopard Man, A Blonde in Love, Gone to Earth, Bob le Flambeur, The Circus, Bob le Flambeur, All the Colors of Giallo.

 

(CLICK to ENLARGE)


BOTTOM ROW (left to right):


Gaslight, La vie de Jésus, They Live, Silent Partner, Bend of the River, Boom!, Eyes of Laura Mars, The Heiress, Fantômas, Diamonds of the Night, Alphaville,
This Island Earth, Eyes of Laura Mars, Romance, Easy Rider, The Body Snatcher, Holy Mountain, Detour, Irma la Douce, Phantom Lady, Der Hund von Baskerville, My Name is Julia Ross, La Verité, The Strange Door, Notorious, These are the Damned, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, Rider on the Rain.  

Thanks to all who participated!

 

 

Best Cover Designs:

 

Another year for impressive artistic covers whether from new inventive artists or replicas of vintage posters! Arrow, Criterion, Kino, Masters of Cinema, Indicator and a few other labels getting a fair share of votes. So many inventive covers, often chosen from extensive, artistic, old poster designs. Many are collectable in their own right. ( Mostly in alphabetical order! - each received 4 or more votes!)

NOTE: Notice the subtlety of Lionsgate's Apocalypse Now cover with the reflection being Kurtz!

 

 

 

On SD DVD. Briefly, we only had a few DVDs selected this year but the format is far from dead. I am watching more DVDs than in previous years as I am always finding new films I want to expose myself to... that aren't yet, and may never be, on Blu-ray. This is what I recently watched (not from 2019)

(CLICK for more information)

I have a pile of them on my desk to review and am hoping to cover some in 2020!       

 

 

 

Notable Rants and Praise

 

Overwhelming kudos to Tim Lucas, Lee Gambin, Kat Ellinger, Samm Deighan, the tri-fecta of Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson, constant accolades for Toby Roan, Imogen Sara Smith, Michael Brooke, Richard Harland Smith, Troy Howarth, Alex Cox, Eddie Muller, Alan K. Rode, Julie Kirgo, Laura Mayne, Adrian Martin, Tony Rayns, Ted Newsom, Constantine Nasr, David Kalat, C. Courtney Joyner, David Del Valle, Stephen Thrower  etc. etc. surface for their excellent commentaries and/or analysis. Thank you ALL! NOTE: Quite a few are also members of DVDBeaver's Facebook group! Come join us!

 

 

"Condemn Paramount for its short-sighted lack of interest in their own artistry and heritage. Paramount continues to decline to release Blu-rays if a DVD has already previously produced. They aren't even interested in licensing Blu-rays out to other boutique labels. Hopefully, the recent trickle of horror films from Shout and the recurring rumors will signal a change in this customer-unfriendly policy.

Still unable to fathom why so many cinema classics have yet to be released on Blu-ray:
Bringing Up Baby
Lady Eve
War of the Worlds
The Alamo
Freaks
Adam's Rib
Gunga Din
Stray Dog
Drunken Angel, etc.. etc. etc." - Gary Slatus

***

"Favourite package- Koker Trilogy for the clever way the individual digipacks fit into one other- the 3rd holds the 2nd which holds the 1st- just as 'Through the Olive Trees.' reflects on 'And Life Goes On' which in turn is a reflection on the locale and cast who appears in 'Where Is the Friend's House' However I also have a gripe about it- the usual one of Criterion outer boxes still being made of thin boards. Could they send someone to Arrow Academy or Eureka to learn how they make sturdy outer boxes? Even the BFI have got in the act for god's sake!" - Billy Bang

***

"FAVORITE Commentary of 2019: Richard Harland Smith - Alice Sweet Alice

The Italian Job 50th edition did not have a new remaster of the film." - Moshe Black

***

Commentaries: "So many quality offerings it is impossible to pick only one. I will single out some especially notable regular contributors: Adrian Martin, Imogen Sara Smith, Jonathan Rigby, Kat Ellinger, and the team of Kim Newman/Stephen Jones." - Luc Pomerleau

***

"It’s absolutely amazing how many great releases have come out in the midst of the (fakely proclaimed) death of physical media. Hollywood hasn’t killed it yet.

-Are we really all just going to live in a world where THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND is never going to receive a physical disc release? SERIOUSLY? Come on Netflix- make a deal with somebody. It cant hurt them one iota.
-I’m still waiting for Film Detective to release their long-intended BD of CAPTAIN KIDD (1945). I really hope someone will take note of this and add their voice.
-CRITERION, meanwhile, had a great year of releases, with less bite-rate pinching, but I worry about their obsession with their streaming channel, their determination to revisit titles already available in excellent BD transfers, and the unavailability of so many of their holdings on BLU-RAY. Criterion, it’s time to give us the (formerly on DVD) holdings of KUROSAWA, KOBAYASHI and SAM FULLER- not to mention RODAN and the rest of the TOHO brood." - Peter Yacavone

***

"I think this was a great year for Criterion, Arrow, and Shout/Factory. I shouldn't forget Kino, especially with their releases of Alphaville, Last Year at Marienbad, Dogtooth, and Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection." - David Hollingsworth

***

"Once again, I must complain when English subtitles and/or closed captions are not included. This makes those of us with hearing issues unable to enjoy such new releases. I'm talking to you, Network in the UK and Warner Archive in the US!

Keep up the great work, Gary. I hope several others increased their Patreon donations and that this might help your website a wee bit to survive." - David T. Steere Jr.

***

"FAVORITE LABEL: Arrow wins this narrowly for me. However, this is really a great time for Boutique labels putting out obscure gems with beautiful transfers and restoration work. I feel indebted to many labels, both literally and figuratively. I limited my top ten releases to one per label to show the field of great labels doing the lord's work.

FAVORITE Commentary of 2019 (or commentaries): Really enjoyed Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan's excellent commentary work on Arrow's Blood Hunger: The Films of Jose Larraz boxset, ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK and Ellinger alone on THE FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION and the trailers compilation ALL THE COLORS OF GIALLO. Tim Lucas' track for LOST HIGHWAY didn't make the blu-ray but it was still a very interesting listen. Troy Howarth's commentary work on the recent releases of Lucio Fulci have helped my appreciation of the films, specifically CONQUEST and MURDER ROCK." - Jason Overbeck

***

Favorite DVD of the Year: Microhabitat (Contents Panda) - A touching and beautifully done film about a young woman facing the challenges of life under economic hardship." - Gregory Elich

***

"We are spoiled by the great work of the boutique labels such as Arrow, Indicator, Masters of Cinema and many others."

 

"Criterion UK had a stunning release slate this year, but it is frustrating that releases are announced then cancelled due to censor edits or clashes with other labels. Surely, better to have done these territory checks before any announcements are made?"

FAVORITE Commentary of 2019 (or commentaries): Cruising (Arrow Video) - Commentary by William Friedkin and Mark Kermode - William J Leitch

***

"Huge kudos to indies Le chat qui fume, Kino Lorber, Synapse, and Vinegar Syndrome for adopting the 4K UHD format! Which just makes it all the more aggravating that Criterion and Arrow remain 1080p-bound holdouts. I used to look to Criterion as the gold standard in home video - no longer." -Jordan C. Johnson

***

"FAVORITE COMMENTARY: John Waters (Criterion) - Yes, they are port-overs from previous releases, but Mr. Waters *never* disappoints and his commentary on "Female Troubles" and "Polyester" are not to be missed. You feel like you're sitting in Mr. Water's rumpus room hearing him reminisce about home movies (which, of course, we are).

This is my OCD talking, but I have to say my rant and praise go hand-in-hand. These labels are all creating beautiful packaging for their releases, however, they are so often very fragile (O-rings, I'm looking at you) that they rarely survive the rigors of the amazons and Walmarts of the world. I guess my request is that companies either do away with the fancy slipcases, or make them more durable (Vinegar Syndrome excels at this). The whole point of such frills is to make the release attractive on the shelf, but as (sadly) so few titles are made available in brick & mortar stores in this day and age, I fail to see the point. (And yes, I know that content should be the thing, but I like my collection to look as lovely on my shelf as they do on my flatscreen—First World Problems at their best!) " - Todd Killinger

***

LABEL OF THE YEAR: Kino / BLU-RAY ESSAY OF THE YEAR: A.L. Kennedy, 1984 / BLU-RAY COVER ART OF THE YEAR: Cinema Guild, Gebo and the Shadow.

 

"This year was like no other for classical and modernist films finding blu-ray releases. It's not improbable to say 2019, by itself, offers a considerably well-rounded film education! Criterion largely fell back upon sure bets and standard bearers, while Kino, for example, brought numerous nervier works to the light of day. The year was so bountiful that it may prove to be the high-water mark of transporting cinema's past into the present. For blu-ray releases, several of the most demanding and rewarding filmmakers of the modernist period, including Miklós Jancsó (with only two films on blu-ray to his name, one incorrectly cropped!), Manoel de Oliveira (two films) and Nagisa Oshima (four films) remain woefully under-represented." - Peter Henne

***

"Favorite Commentaries of 2019: Dr Adrian Martin for his erudite commentary on The Big Clock. Tom Weaver, David Schecter and Dr. Robert J. Kiss share production minutiae as the melodramatic excesses of The Strange Door unfold on screen."

Best DVD: La Morte Che Assolve / The Absolving Death (Carlo Alberto Lolli, 1918) MicLab Fondazione Cineteca Italiana – A 2k restoration of the only surviving film of the great silent era diva Elettra Raggio (1887-1973).

Shame on Universal for palming off Arrow Academy with a poor master for their release of Phantom Lady. Also shame on Arrow Academy for doing little about it and thinking no one would care or notice. This noir deserves a better upgrade. Go in the proverbial corner both and write a thousand times: “This is a real mess. We apologize and will replace with a full 4k restoration and re-release immediately.”
Why did Shout! Factory advertise a trailer on the sleeve of their release The Body Snatchers? Unless it’s an Easter egg it cannot be found on disc! Slipshod or what?
Bravo Les Documents Cinematographiques. Founded by Jean Painlevé in 1930 this French company has released several features on DVD. Veille D’Armes (1935) and La Route Impériale (1935) both directed by Marcel L’Herbier. All their releases carry English subs not only on the main feature itself, but on all supplementary material as well. Trailers, interviews etc. This is unheard of as far as the rest of French digital releases are concerned.

- David Redfern

***

FAVORITE Commentary of 2019: Tie - David Jenkins on "The Young Girls of Rochefort" (BFI) (UK) (RB) and Jim Hemphill - "Betrayed" (BFI) (UK) (RB) Both are well researched, informative, excellent exclusive commentary tracks.

Favorite DVD of the Year:
TIE: Do Not Adjust Your Set - Collector's Edition - BFI (R2) / At Last the 1948 Show: The Complete Series - BFI (R2) These two television releases feature the Monty Python crew in their pre-Python days, along with the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Marty Feldman, "Captain Fantastic", memorable wacky skits, and characters that stand the test of time. Both releases feature all the surviving episodes with a huge amount of extras including audio only surviving portions, lengthy new interviews, and more.

Rants and Praises:
There are some honorable mentions to be made such as the 1920 German silent classic "Der Golem" (Eureka) (UK) (RB) and Milos Forman's underrated 1981 film "Ragtime" (Arte Editions) (France) (RB) receiving excellent treatment on Blu-ray - but those discs have been delayed by the post office and I have not received them personally yet, and I'm only going by other people's trusted reviews. Sony's release of "Poetic Justice" (1993) was a surprise, as they went a step further to include audition footage and deleted scenes for the first time ever, all being transferred in HD, plus a new interview with Singleton, which unfortunately became his last with his passing only a few months later. 88 Films as well as Eureka have been doing some excellent work releasing restored editions of Jackie Chan films and other Fortune Star properties, such as "The Protector" (1985) and "Crime Story" (1993) from 88 Films and "Three Films with Sammo Hung" and "Two Films by John Woo" from Eureka.


For some dishonorable mentions, "It's a Wonderful Life" may have received a 4K restoration and new release from Paramount on UHD and Blu-ray, but the release was a mess, with the US UHD release only including the baffling color version on the bonus Blu-ray and leaving off the previously released extras, and the international Paramount UHD/BD releases having the restored black and white version with none of the older extras, only containing the quick new featurettes. It seems like it is following the trend seen in Disney's line of "Signature Edition" releases, by reissuing films already on Blu-ray with new extras, and leaving behind the more significant older extras, and this year Disney continues that as well with many of their reissues. Besides presentation of the films themselves, the major labels were not at their best in 2019, and sadly the trend will most likely continue in that direction more for the future. - James-Masaki Ryan

***

"Favorite DVD of the Year: A Place To Call Home [Ltd Ed DVD] - Acorn - There are MOD Blu-ray editions of this wonderful Australian melodrama 6-season series, but I can't vouch for it. I can say that Acorn TV's 1080p streaming sports a great image but the audio suffers from PAL speedup which the DVD doesn't - Go figure." - Leonard Norwitz

***

"Praise to Arrow for finally announcing the Jodorowsky boxset for 2020, the accompanying cinema releases are also much welcomed. Rant that it's been a rumour for so long and that the cover art wasn't slightly more original!" -L H

***

FAVORITE Commentary of 2019 (or commentaries): Michael Brooke on SR's Diamonds of the Night!

***

"Great stuff still being put out by the major boutique labels including Arrow, Criterion, Eureka/MoC, Second Run, Second Sight, Indicator, and more, although the prospects for 2020 seem less hopeful at this point. Would like to see Arrow and others do some 4K UHD releases for their bigger titles." -Timothy Holm

***

The most disappointing commentary of the year was Nick Pinkerton's on KL's The Milky Way. Not only does he miss some facts and trivia that are either well-known or easily available through basic research, but he gets a bit lost in the picaresque trip woven by Buńuel and Carričre. He also relies too heavily on lengthy quotations from previous scholarship. Perhaps a general lack of empathy with the director's work in his final French phase, a culture and language Pinkerton may not be very familiar with.

***

"A weaker year in comparison to 2017 and 2018, apart from "Detour" no big and hugely-waited title released (e.g. "Othello" and "The Magnificent Ambersons" in 2017/8 or "Barry Lyndon") but a solid year of improvements of existing HD titles with a lot of masterpiece released in definitive releases.
Nick Wrigley, the best cover designer of all: his work of reshaping of original materials to fit the covers is stunning and inspirational. PRAISE! Warner: a lot done (with the Archive collection and the collaboration with Criterion and now Arrow) but a lot to be done: another year has passed without any "Greed", any "The Wind", any "The Devils" in HD. Italian labels: it's a hard life, but something is really moving. Koch Media Italy a few years ago entered in the collector box-set territory with excellent results; Eagle Pictures is the exclusive distributor of the Studiocanal library in the territory and entered in the 4k field; CG Entertainment just announced the HD distribution of Alberto Grimaldi's library (new 4K restoration of Bertolucci's "1900" and "Last Tango in Paris" or Fellini's "Ginger and Fred" and "Casanova" coming soon in 2020). ". - Alfredo Santoro

***

"FAVORITE Commentary of 2019: Too many to mention but if you see names like Tim Lucas, Lee Gambin, Kat Ellinger, Samm Deighan, Howard S. Berger, you know you're in good hands". - Colin Zavitz

 

"Some of my favorite films of 2019 received the 'barebones' release treatment and/or DVDBeaver did not review. I hope to recommend those titles at a future date. As always, working with Gary is an absolute pleasure and I look forward to many more years. Thank you to all our Patrons and supporters for keeping us afloat when things looked rough. Looking forward to next year's look back, if not just so I can say that "hindsight is 2020". - Colin Zavitz

***

FAVORITE Commentary of 2019 (or commentaries):
Amanda Reyes- DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (Warner Archive)

I need to say a few words about info on the back covers. It sounds like a niche complaint, but the type is getting smaller and the organization is haphazard. I really hope companies think this through in the future

Arrow needs to come back to Beyond Fest. We miss you guys!

I really dug a bunch of Severin's releases (like VIY), but what is up with THE CHANGELING? Has the disc been fixed?

I love Second Run as a company. Lots of cool discs from movies that have been almost forgotten. Can they start a US / Canada office? Same thing with Third Window- you guys are the only ones putting out Sion Sono films and there's an audience in Region A for them.

African cinema is almost unknown in the US, almost non-existent outside major cities, and disc presence is even worse. A champion is needed.

The company reps that pop up on message boards- you guys are awesome. Keep it up. And the companies that send reps to conventions- you rule. I love seeing those guys.

Paramount (and now the Miramax library) really needs to get more of their catalog titles out to boutique labels. Some of their early efforts are encouraging, but I fear they could get easily discouraged.

The Vestron Line is sorely missed.

I am deeply concerned about titles from 20th Century Fox. I'd buy blu-rays of ANNE OF THE INDIES, A HATFUL OF RAIN, and SONS AND LOVERS if they appeared, but with Twilight Time in a state of ambiguity and Disney being "coy," we might be looking at a situation comparable to Paramount's.

I'm making my annual plea to get THE DEVILS on blu.

Criterion- This the 60th Anniversary of SPARTACUS. A new blu is overdue.

So, what's up with Olive? We're starting to worry.

I know this is a laundry list, but I actually like a lot of what's out there. If I didn't care, I wouldn't be complaining.
Gabriel Neeb

***

 

My 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' list of a few Blu-rays that, I think, deserved a little more love than our poll supplied them:

 

In the Heat of the Night [Blu-ray] (Norman Jewison, 1967) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Charly [Blu-ray] (Ralph Nelson, 1968) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Possessed [Blu-ray] (Luigi Bazzoni, Franco Rossellini, 1965) Arrow Video UK (BEAVER REVIEW)

Peppermint Soda [Blu-ray] (Diane Kurys, 1977) Cohen (BEAVER REVIEW)

La vérité [Blu-ray] (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1960) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Human Desire [Blu-ray] (Fritz Lang, 1954) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW) - key Noir - Gloria Grahame and Glenn Ford - Gary

To Sleep with Anger [Blu-ray] (Charles Burnett, 1990) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Trapped [Blu-ray] (Richard Fleischer, 1949) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Kid Brother [Blu-ray] (Ted Wilde, 1927) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Far from Heaven [Blu-ray] (Todd Haynes, 2002) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Jivaro 3D [Blu-ray 3D] (Edward Ludwig, 1954) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

River's Edge [Blu-ray] (Tim Hunter, 1986) RB DE Alive (BEAVER REVIEW)

Rider on the Rain [Blu-ray] (René Clément, 1970) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - Loved this to death - Gary

Diamonds of the Night [Blu-ray] (Jan Němec, 1964) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

A Face in the Crowd [Blu-ray] (Elia Kazan, 1957) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Lilith [Blu-ray] (Robert Rossen, 1964) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Snake Pit [Blu-ray] (Anatole Litvak, 1948) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW) - Shoulda been in the TOP 50 - Gary

Fantomas 1960s Collection (Fantomas / Fantomas Unleashed / Fantomas vs. Scotland Yard) [Blu-ray] (André Hunebelle, 1964-1967) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Spanish Prisoner [Blu-ray] (David Mamet, 1997) Ammo Content (BEAVER REVIEW) - Not a great BD but this is my most rewatched film - Gary

All About Lily Chou-Chou [Blu-ray] (Shunji Iwai, 2001) Film Movement Classics (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Alligator People [Blu-ray] (Roy Del Ruth, 1959) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Nun (aka La religieuse) [Blu-ray] (Jacques Rivette, 1966) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada [Blu-ray] (Tommy Lee Jones, 2005) Sony (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW) - Haven't even see this particular BD but am a huge fans of this film and have all the Euro Blu-rays - Gary

Who? [Blu-ray] (Jack Gold, 1974) UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW) - Very weird, very cool - Gary

The Andromeda Strain [Blu-ray] (Robert Wise, 1971) UK Arrow Video (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW)

Death and the Maiden [Blu-ray] (Roman Polanski, 1994) RB DE Studio Canal (BEAVER REVIEW) - Probably my favorite Polanski after The Tennant (why ain't that on BD?) - Gary

The Silent Partner [Blu-ray] (Daryl Duke, 1978) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) - Canucksploitation - looks like The Eaton's Centre! - Gary

Scum [Blu-ray] (Alan Clarke, 1979) Region Free UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Wild Heart [Blu-ray] (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1952) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW) - My fav Jen Jonres and its P+P - Gary

Peter Pan [Blu-ray] (Herbert Brenon, 1924) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

This Island Earth [Blu-ray] (Joseph M. Newman, 1955) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW) - My fav 50's sci-fi and finally in the best presentation - Gary

Attack of the Robots (aka Cartes sur table) [Blu-ray] (Jess Franco, 1966) Redemption (BEAVER REVIEW) - I actually liked a Jess Franco flic! - Gary

The Psychic [Blu-ray] (Lucio Fulci, 1977) Scorpion Releasing (BEAVER REVIEW)

1984 [Blu-ray] (Michael Radford, 1984) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Shoulda been in the TOP 50 - Gary

Criss Cross [Blu-ray] (Robert Siodmak, 1949) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn [Blu-ray] (Elia Kazan, 1945) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Leopard Man [Blu-ray] (Jacques Tourneur, 1943) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW) - Master-poet of a director - Gary

L'Argent [Blu-ray] (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928) Flicker Alley (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Harder They Come [Blu-ray] (Perry Henzell, 1972) Shout! Factory (ALT-BEAVER REVIEW) - "A 4K restoration in the original 1.66:1 framing, including the long unreleased follow-up film "No Place Like Home", plus over 8 hours of extras, this 3 disc edition is the definition of a definitive release." - James-Masaki Ryan

The Ear (aka Ucho) [Blu-ray] (Karel Kachyna, 1970) RB UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW)

Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice [Blu-ray] (Yasujirô Ozu, 1952) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Shoulda been in the TOP 50 - Gary

The Leech Woman [Blu-ray] (Edward Dein, 1960) Shout! (BEAVER REVIEW)

Circus of Horrors [Blu-ray] (Sidney Hayers, 1960) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW) - Bizarre horror fun! - Gary

Mirage [Blu-ray] (Edward Dmytryk, 1965) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Eyes of Laura Mars [Blu-ray] (Irvin Kershner, 1978) Region Free Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Letter [Blu-ray] (William Wyler, 1940) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW) - Coulda been in the TOP 50 - Gary

Hercules in the Haunted World [Blu-ray] (Mario Bava, 1961) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

A Journey to the Beginning of Time [Blu-ray] (Karel Zeman, 1955) UK Second Run (BEAVER REVIEW) - "With releases of director Karel Zeman's Czech special effects masterpieces "Invention for Destruction" and "The Fabulous Baron Munchausen" on Blu-ray last year, Second Run follows them up with the director's 1955 film inspired by "Journey to the Center of the Earth". With two versions of the film and a good amount of extras to support the 4K restoration, it's a wondrous experience to behold more than 60 years later." - James-Masaki Ryan

Fright [Blu-ray] (Peter Collinson, 1971) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW) - Ummm.. SUSAN GEORGE! Nu'ff said - Gary

When We Were Kings [Blu-ray] (Leon Gast, 1996) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) Coulda been in the TOP 50 - Gary

Zoltan... Hound of Dracula (aka Dracula's Dog) [Blu-ray] (Albert Band, 1977) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW) - Let your hair down you snobs! - Gary

Days of Wine and Roses [Blu-ray] (Blake Edwards, 1962) Warner Archive (BEAVER REVIEW) - This film makes me weep! - Gary

Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory (aka Lycanthropus) [Blu-ray] (Paolo Heusch, 1961) Severin (BEAVER REVIEW) - Krimi-esque fun! - Gary

Cold War [Blu-ray] (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2018) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW) - Can't believe this did not make TOP 10 - may be the best film I saw in 2019! - Gary

Fawlty Towers - The Complete Collection [Blu-ray] - RB UK BBC (BEAVER REVIEW) - This show makes me sob... in tears of laughter - Gary

Un Flic [Blu-ray] (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1972) Kino Lorber (BEAVER REVIEW)

Green for Danger [Blu-ray] (Sidney Gilliat, 1946) RB UK Network (BEAVER REVIEW) - Best 'Who-Dun-It' in its era and beyond - Gary

Upgrade [Blu-ray] (Leigh Whannell, 2018) RB UK Second Sight (BEAVER REVIEW) - Already given many deserved accolades - Gary

The Holly and the Ivy [Blu-ray] (George More O'Ferrall, 1952) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

Now, Voyager [Blu-ray] (Irving Rapper, 1942) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW Coulda easily have been in the TOP 50 - many votes but fell short - Gary

Secret Ceremony [Blu-ray] (Joseph Losey, 1968) RB UK Indicator (BEAVER REVIEW) - Very weird, very cool - Gary

The Abominable Snowman [Blu-ray] (Val Guest, 1957) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW) - My favorite New Hammer of 2019 - Gary

 

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